Kansas football isn't polarizing by any means, yet it's hard to find a realistic positional breakdown of the Jayhawks.
It's probably because only hopeful local media produce in-depth content on the Jayhawks, while everyone else simply assumes (justifiably) that they'll suck.
I, a die-hard Jayhawk, will do my best to lay out a very basic, honest positional breakdown that lands somewhere in between wishful thinking and degrading. We'll start up front.
It's worrisome that junior Marquel Combs, the 'prize' of the 2013 recruiting class, hasn't earned a starting spot yet. Hope that he wins the job eventually, unless juniors Keon Stowers and Ty McKinney are as improved as spring practice raves led us to believe.
Redshirting the class of 2013's heavy favorite to have an immediate impact (junior Andrew Bolton) for a perfect recovery is risky. That shows a lot of faith in seniors Keba Agostinho, Kevin Young and Jordan Tavai who combined for an embarrassing 55 tackles, five tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks as regular starters in 2012.
Losing transfer Chris Martin hurts. Our three primary competitors at the buck position totaled just 45 tackles, 7.5 for loss and two sacks in 2012. On the bright side, only Willis started a single game in 2012 (not at buck) and Toben Opurum's 2012 totals as an 11-game starter (41 tackles, six for loss and 1.5 sacks) weren't awe-inspiring.
Pardon some excitement, but finally there's positional improvement to talk about as opposed to the status quo jobs above.
In-state favorite junior Ben Heeney is among the best middle linebackers in the conference. Even an injured Schyler Miles (his sophomore backup) was too talented to keep off the field. If junior transfer Samson Faifili is good enough to challenge sophomore incumbent starter (a successful one at that) Jake Love, that's a terrific sign.
Thankfully, losing junior Marcus Jenkins-Moore (injury, redshirt) and would-be senior Huldon Tharp (injury) doesn't seem like it will sting much.
Juniors Kevin Short and Dexter McDonald are 'unproven' but are tremendous upgrades athletically over last season's starters Greg Brown and Tyler Patmon. Juniors Jacorey Shepherd and Brandon Holloman are a little smaller, but are quick and aggressive backups.
If defensive coordinator Dave Campo can turn ability into talent, this position will quietly become one of Kansas' strongest.
Coaches say four years of hard work have paid off for senior strong safety Dexter Linton. Junior free safety transfer Isaiah Johnson has drawn raves throughout camp. Redshirt freshman free safety Tevin Shaw is being touted as the future of the position. This position, as of now, is disappointingly defined by the unproven and the unknown.
It's a fantastic sign that Campo likes juniors Cassius Sendish, a transfer-turned-captain, and Victor Simmons enough that he went out of his way to get them all over the field.
These two players have serious talent. As with the F back, it remains to be seen if the nickel position is effective in itself and the most effective way to utilize such good talent.